I Like Trains: He Who Saw the Deep
Partly via the power of fan’s donations He Who Saw the Deep is about to be released after cash was pledged to get it mastered, marketed and toured. Not only is this approach inventive, but it lends a greater personal attachment to the music and the band that can only fill a fan’s heart with warmth. I’m suitably heart-warmed.
For me this sense of involvement was there before I Like Trains embarked on this endeavour, as I’d begun to grow slightly concerned as to how they might progress their sound. Don’t get me wrong – another album of skin-tingling epics wouldn’t have gone amiss, but I foresaw a possible faltering interest in future releases. Fortunately there’s an overriding sense of progression on He Who Saw the Deep that allays this. And equally fortunately this is evolution without a radical and jolting sense of loss for what has gone before.
As if to echo this sense of development, lyrically the historical documents have gone. Instead there are stories of intimacy that contrast starkly with the de-personal distancing that themed the previous output. ‘A Father’s Son’ tells of paternal relationships in all their hypocritical and awkward glory – “I’ll occupy the space between what you say and what you mean” – and thus without the sugary coating that the topic usually generates. ‘Progress is a Snake’ tells of hubris and arrogance, yet is tinged with a slowly emerging and subtle sense of hope. And it seems that the band have discovered the power of a chorus, with more obvious hooks slowly but surely working themselves into your affections (although we’re still some way from pop in any taken-for-granted sense).
On the musical side of things the reverb might have been turned down a touch on the guitars, yet they still envelope, surge and sound magisterial when synergised with Simon Fogal’s always intelligent beats. And there’s a developed sense of pace and urgency about some of the tunes, especially in the upbeat (well, for I Like Trains) opener ‘When we were Kings’.
Having said all this about progression and noticeable yet restrained changes, the standout track is the 2009 single ‘Sea of Regrets’ which relies on the building epic blueprint of the past iLiKETRAiNS. Yet it’s possibly the best thing they’ve ever written – properly and truly breathtaking. Indeed it’s also standout for being the only song I’ve known a crowd demand be played twice in a row the last time I saw them at The Deaf Institute. They didn’t but I think they were tempted given the reaction it engendered. Here it is, in all its 8:05 and 320kpbs glory:
I’m only posting one track to encourage you to purchase. Please do – pre-order the album here.